Trying to promote an upcoming event or interested in getting media coverage for something happening with your business? A press release (also known as a media release or a news release) is a smart way to let news outlets know what is happening.
What is a press release? It’s a concisely written description of the event or gathering that will spark a journalist’s interest. You send this document to news organizations–television stations, newspapers, radio stations, magazines–to let them know about an event, service or solution they can include in their broadcasts or publications. At the very least, your goal in sending it in advance is to compel the reader to place the information in a file to be looked at on the date the event is taking place.
Take a look at this successful news release. All the area news outlets sent out a news crew. It actually received international attention.
What can you learn from the above release? Take a look at the format, the information shared, the use of quotes and bolded sentences. The news release has critical information, yet it is easy to read.
Now it’s your turn.
Your best bet to reaching the newsroom is to send an email first. Before hitting send on a press release to a news outlet, make sure you have these elements in place.
1) A local hook
Local news coverage for a local event is an invaluable way to get the word out to the masses. And if you are targeting a publication or TV station in your area, you already have a leg up in your promotion efforts. They are looking to highlight events such as yours. Start by taking inventory of what outlets you have in your area – newspapers, television stations, community publications, radio stations, locally-focused blogs. Once you pinpoint those outlets, call them and ask for the email to the newsroom.
2) A relevant headline
Highlight the local element of your event as well as the benefit to the media outlet’s audience. If it’s a food fair, for example, make sure you mention where it’s happening and who will be there. For instance, you could write, “Food fair attracts 400 food trucks to Springfield on October 1.” You don’t want the person who receives the email to delete it without opening it, so make sure they know the value the event offers to the media outlet’s audience.
3) Short and sweet
Producers, reporters, and assignment managers are busy. Newscasts are right around the corner and phone calls are constantly coming in. They are always looking for newsworthy events and happenings, but if something doesn’t seem relevant, they will hit delete right away. So don’t give them an excuse. Include relevant information in the first paragraph.
4) Critical details
Make it easy for the journalist to find important event details. This includes:
Who (is holding the event)?
What (is happening)?
When (is it taking place)?
Where (will it be held)?
Why (is it happening)?
5) Clear contact information
The press release itself should be as short as possible. One page, but no longer than two. Put contact information (name, title, phone number, email) at the top as well as at the bottom of the release.
6) Pictures, video, and sound
No matter the media outlet, good visuals are important. What can you offer the reporter in terms of interviews, photos, video opportunities or web links? Even a radio station can take advantage of a fun location, possibly sending a crew out there to capture the “sounds” of the event.
Having the proper elements in a press release means your email has a greater chance of getting read. The news release doesn’t ensure news coverage of your event, but it could get you one step closer to success.
What struggles do you have in coming up with your press release or getting a reaction from previous ones you have sent? Share your thoughts in the comments below.